Martha Stewart Living Radio: The Radio Blog

A Few of My Favorite Things in Paradise

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I was very lucky to have had a chance to travel to the Cayman Islands last month. (Could it be LAST month already?) What an amazing place and such a wonderful way to get warm during this especially cold winter. We'd just missed the the cold snap down there, something like 66 degrees f. Poor things, they were suffering so!  But I'm happy to report it was pretty much 80 degrees every day, with full sun...sorry, but it really was.

I saw so many amazing things from turtle farms to a red footed booby sanctuary on Little Cayman. Aside from the scuba diving (another time I'll tell that tale) was a trip to the Queen Elizabeth ll Botanic Park on Grand Cayman.  Comprised of a total of 65 acres, 45 of which are a nature preserve, the Park is a joint effort of the Cayman Islands government and the National Trust of the Cayman Islands. The collection includes a palm collection, an orchid walk that is under development, a traditional 'sand garden' or home garden in the style of what would have been all around the islands 150 years ago, along with an intact residence from the period in addition to an propagation range for orchids (from seed, no less!).  So, lots to see.

Our favorite section was the Color Garden.  General manager of the garden Andrew Guthrie was our guide.  Andrew and crew took a Silver Metal at the Chelsea Flower show in 2008 for a recreation of a Caymanian sand garden, so they know a bit about making a great impression.  We were wowed.  So many things that I've seen in catalogs and used in containers growing to full, completely gorgeous size.  In fact, Andrew told us he'd ordered plants from Logee's greenhouses in Connecticut to use in his designs in the garden there.  Tropical borders located in the British West Indies designed in part with plants from a greenhouse in New England U.S.  Hmmm...there's a bit of irony in that, no?

Here are a few of the things that floored me;

CandleTree
The magnificent Candle Tree or Parmentiera cereifera, with crazy beautiful fruit and flowers held close to the main branches and trunk, that look like a catalpa tree flower, only warm, summery yellow.

Croton
I don't think of myself really loving crotons, but in the hands of someone like Andrew and grown in ideal Z10 conditions, what's not to like?  This was just one moment of many, many great croton combinations.

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This outrageously beautiful fishtail palm in bloom, AMAZING!

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The show stopper, a double row of coppery pink/orange Aechmea was a jaw dropper among so many others.  And below, another view.

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So many wonderful things along with all the other elements of the Park, not the least of which are the conservation efforts to preserve native flora and the native Caymaynian Blue Iguana make the Queen Elizabeth ll Botanical Park an absolute must see when in the Caymans.  Loved it all and thanks again to Andrew and his amazing staff for all their dedication and hard work.  Bravo!

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